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July 14, 2006
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Writer: John O'Bryan
Director: Giancarlo Volpe
A professor tells the group about a hidden Spirit Library in the desert. Inside, Sokka discovers a crucial weakness to the Fire Nation that could end the war: the date of the upcoming solar eclipse. The spirit of the library, Wan Shi Tong, refuses to allow them to leave with the knowledge and sinks the library into the sand. Meanwhile, Appa is kidnapped by Sandbenders. They all escape from the library but are devastated by the loss of Appa.
The scene opens with Aang sitting in the ground looking over a vast open savanna type landscape. The scene then shifts, showing the gang standing behind the seated Aang, who is holding a flute in his hand, and Sokka asks, “What’s out here?” As Toph bends down to touch the ground, she responds, “A lot actually.” Just as she’s about to elaborate, Aang interrupts her, telling her not to ruin the surprise. Aang makes a musical note with the flute, and then a groundhog-type creature emerges and repeats the same note. After several more notes, a frustrated Sokka puts his finger into the end of the flute and states they need to make plans. Toph points out they are making plans - mini-vacations plans. Sokka doesn’t feel they have time for vacations. Aang points out he is working his “arrow off” diligently with Toph and Katara to master the elements, and Katara agrees there’s nothing wrong with enjoying themselves during their down time. Sokka is very concerned they have no inside information about the Fire Nation and that even if Aang masters the elements, then they won't know what to do as they have no idea how to even find the Fire Lord, let alone defeat him. Sokka states they need intelligence (information) in order to win the war. Katara aptly states, “All right, we’ll finish our vacations and then we’ll look for Sokka’s intelligence.”
For her mini-vacation, Katara chooses the Misty Palms Oasis from Aang’s map. However, the gang soon finds out the Misty Palms Oasis has gone downhill in reputation in the past 100 years. They go into a bar-like establishment where an employee prepares a Mango. The customer being served accidentally bumps into Aang, spilling some of his drink onto Aang. Aang uses his airbending to dry himself. The customer, excited to meet an airbender, introduces himself as Professor Zei of the Ba Sing Se University. He begins quizzing Aang as though Aang is a science specimen. Sokka inquires as to whether the Professor has a more recent map, and the Professor unrolls a map showing a vast desert with routes marked where he has gone in search of the Knowledge Spirit's library. With the possibility that the library may have information to be used against the Fire Nation, Sokka dramatically announces his choice for the next mini-vacation to be the library. The Professor states it is impossible to cross the desert, and the gang then introduces him to Appa. Sandbenders, who are Earthbenders who specialize in bending sand, are trying to take Appa, but the Professor shoos them away.
The group heads out in search of the large library. After a long search, Sokka finally spots something that looks like a tower sticking out of the sand. Just as they are about to give up, a fox carrying a scroll walks up the side of the tower and into a window at the top, and Sokka realizes this is the library. Devastated that his life-long dream of finding the Knowledge Spirit's library is buried, the Professor drops to the ground and begins to excavate. Toph puts her hand on the tower and announces the library is intact under the sand. All but Toph and Appa head into the library.
After entering the library, they hear something approaching and hide behind ornate columns. A huge black white-faced owl comes out. After a few moments taking in his surroundings, the owl speaks, telling the group he knows they are there. Professor Zei comes out excitedly and introduces himself. The owl is less than impressed and tells the Professor he should leave or he will stuff him like an animal trophy. The others come out from hiding and Sokka asks if he is the spirit who brought the library to the physical world, to which the owl says yes. The Knowledge Spirit then informs them that humans are not permitted in the library anymore because they abuse the knowledge in his library. After Aang promises they will not abuse the knowledge, the owl relents but only after each provides some knowledge for the library. The Professor offers a first edition book; Katara offers a waterbending scroll; Aang offers his wanted poster; and Sokka offers a specialty tied knot. After accepting these donations to his library (some of which he is less than impressed with), the Knowledge Spirit descends into the lower levels allowing the group to look around.
Meanwhile, Toph attempts to make small talk with Appa outside. She explains to Appa how because the sand is loose, her “seeing” abilities are blurred (similar to when a person who wears glasses removes them).
Back inside the library, the group looks around and we learn that in a previous life, Aang was once left-handed. Sokka finds a parchment stating the darkest day of the Fire Nation with a date. The group then goes in search of a Fire Nation wing of the library. Once they find it, they are shocked to discover everything has been destroyed by Firebenders. From nowhere, a fox appears and indicates that it will lead them to where they can get more information. The fox opens a door to a planetarium and shows them how to use it. Katara suggests putting the date from the parchment and then run the machine. Once this is done, they realize a solar eclipse will incapacitate the Firebenders in a manner similar to how the removal of the moon affected the Waterbenders. Just as Sokka is gloating about the Firebenders going down, the Knowledge Spirit appears. Understandably angry, he flaps his wings and begins sinking the library. The group begins to flee with the owl chasing them.
Outside, Toph realizes the library is sinking. Her initial attempt to stop the sinking proves fruitless as she begins to sink herself, but she then manages to solidify some sand around her feet while using her fists to slow the library’s descent.
As the chase inside the library continues, Sokka has Aang come with him back to the planetarium so they can see if or when the next solar eclipse will happen before the return of Sozin’s comet. The spirit continues to chase Katara and the Professor as Aang and Sokka head back.
While continuing to hold up the library, Toph becomes aware that others are there. Sandbenders arrive, but Toph cannot make out who is there or where they are.
Aang and Sokka begin checking dates from that day to the arrival of Sozin’s comet and eventually find the date of the next solar eclipse, which is a few months away.
Alternating between holding up the library and shooting random shots at the Sandbenders, Toph loses her battle to protect Appa while continuing to hold the library up from sinking.
The Knowledge Sprit catches up to Katara and tells her he is versed in all types of waterbending styles and her bending will do her no good. Suddenly Sokka drops down on the owl and knocks it out saying, "That's called Sokka Style. Learn it." As they begin to ascend the rope, Sokka calls to the Professor, who refuses to leave. The spirit regains consciousness and shakes Sokka and Katara off the rope, but Aang manages to catch them and flies them out of the library. Realizing they are out, Toph releases her grip on the library, and it vanishes into the sand. Although initially happy at the discovery of a weakness to the Fire Nation, the mood changes once they realize Appa is gone. A tear goes down Aang's face, and the camera pans to the sun and fades to black.
Production Notes Edit
Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
Series Continuity Edit
- When Katara tries to use waterbending against Wan Shi Tong, he states he has mastered all types of waterbending, including Foggy Swamp Style. This is the style used by the Foggy Swamp Tribe as seen in "The Swamp".
- During this episode, Aang comes across a book which depicts the meeting of a human and a Lion Turtle, foreshadowing his own encounter with one during the series finale.
- When Sokka talks about invading the Fire Nation he sarcastically says "Should we just head west until we hit the Fire Lord's house? Knock Knock. Hello Fire Lord? Anybody home?" Aang in Day of Black Sun goes there and asks if anybody's home.
- As revealed in "The Siege of the North, Part 2", Zhao visited an "underground library". Here, Wan Shi Tong mentions him as a Firebender who came a few years back.
- The wanted poster that Aang gives to Wan Shi Tong is believed to be the same wanted poster he took off the message board in "The Deserter".
- Sokka is seen to be the first to enter the library (through the window). However, he is the second to last person to climb down the rope when they reach the floor of the library.
- When Katara, Aang, Sokka and Professor Zei are climbing down the rope into the library, Momo is missing in a few frames.
- After Katara tells Aang he was left-handed in a past life, Sokka reaches for a scroll on the bookshelf and his boomerang is missing. In the next frame it is back.
- When Sokka decides to check the planetarium to discover the date of the eclipse, Momo's fur becomes black.
- When Aang is playing the Flute, his fingers move despite playing only one pitch. When flautists uncover and cover holes with their fingers across the instrument, the velocity of the air changes, thus creating different pitches. This is not proper for only holding a single pitch.
- Along with the following episode, "The Desert", this episode aired as the one-hour special, Avatar: The Fury of Aang.
- The building of the library looks like like a mix of Turkey's Hagia Sophia and India's Taj Mahal.
- Wan Shi Tong represents himself as an owl. This is a reference to the symbol for Athena the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, which is also an owl.
- The pictures on the dial are the Chinese Zodiac, which is for choosing the year.
- Toph says "Let me know if they have something you can listen to". In the real world, there are audio books.